The Flyers have never been afraid of making bold moves over the course of their history, and one of the boldest was the Chris Pronger trade on this day back in 2009.
Then-GM Paul Holmgren sent Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two first-round draft picks (2009 and 2010), and a conditional third-round pick to the Ducks for Pronger. The deal aimed to solidify the Flyers’ blue line with the dominant Pronger, who served as perhaps the best true talent defender the Flyers have ever seen wear the Orange and Black.
Pronger, then 34, had already built a Hall of Fame level career with a Hart and Norris Trophy on his mantle, figured to have several years left of All-Star play left in the tank and was far from decline before injuries ultimately forced his Flyers tenure to end abruptly after just 145 games.
Though Pronger played a little over a season and a half for the Flyers, his impact was felt during their run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with 18 points in 23 games while playing a staggering 29 minutes per night. Despite falling in the 2010 Cup Final to Chicago in six games, Pronger showed there was plenty left in the tank and the Flyers felt destined to be right back in the thick of things after watching Patrick Kane deliver the Blackhawks a Cup.
Unfortunately for the Flyers and Pronger, his 2010-11 season was shortened due to injury and he was never quite the same after suffering what was later deemed post-concussion syndrome. He played just 50 games that season and just three playoff games as the Flyers flamed out early In the postseason without Pronger’s steady force on defense.
With concussion symptoms still lingering into the 2011-12 season, Pronger’s career was already in doubt when Mikhail Grabovski’s stick caught him in the eye during a game in October of 2011. He wouldn’t play again for the Flyers —or anyone else— despite having his contract traded for salary cap purposes later on. Pronger currently works in the Florida Panthers organization.
Though the Flyers were ultimately plagued by goaltending issues during Pronger’s short tenure, who knows what would have happened had the dominant defender had been able to stay healthy. Even in his mid-30’s Pronger was a force and a difference maker that the Flyers sorely missed for years following the unofficial end of his playing days.
Would the Flyers have won a Stanley Cup with a healthy Pronger? It’s a great “what if” for the history books, but a trade that the Flyers certainly don’t regret making —even given the unfortunate ending.
Also on June 26th in franchise history...the Flyers find a franchise defenseman (thanks Devils!) by drafting Ivan Provorov with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft...but also in the same round of the same draft, the Flyers selected a top-six forward with Travis Konecny at No. 24 overall...TK made his first All-Star team this past season...